Home Community Moore River Holidays hosts Bhutanese Buddhist Retreat

Moore River Holidays hosts Bhutanese Buddhist Retreat

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Rona and Cos Chiera greet His Holiness Garab Rinpoche.

Hundreds of Bhutanese Buddhist practitioners from Australia, China, and Singapore, including His Holiness Garab Rinpoche, a highly revered Buddhist Master from Bhutan, gathered for a three-day retreat at Moore River Holidays. Typically known for offering relaxing stargazing experiences, Rona and Cos Chiera hosted this special event on their picturesque 40-acre property in Caraban.

Buddhism, the state religion in Bhutan, plays a crucial role in shaping the country’s identity and promoting spiritual and communal well-being. This unique event was sparked by an unintended yet fortuitous sleepover by Sonam Norbu, secretary of Dudjom Dharma House Perth, a local centre dedicated to Buddhist practice and teachings in Western Australia. Sonam, who also works as an Uber driver, found himself camping overnight in the Moore River region after completing a late-night ride. Awed by the area’s unspoiled beauty and its resemblance to his hometown in Bhutan, he proposed it as the location for the next retreat.

Several months later, Sonam contacted Moore River Holidays to arrange the event. Rona recalled, “Sonam said, ‘I want to bring His Holiness and practitioners from around the world here.’ I said, ‘Go for it!’ Knowing our property is a popular location for country weddings and events, we knew we could accommodate his requests. I feel honoured that our unspoiled nature was a key attraction – it’s what I love about the Shire of Gingin, the dark sky capital of WA.”

As custom manufacturers in Perth, Rona and Cos were well-equipped to meet any special needs, such as constructing a Bhutanese Prayer Flag Pole and communal sinks. Cos, who owns Total Sheet Metal in Osborne Park, ensured all requests were met.

The retreat began with His Holiness being received in a chibdrel procession, a traditional Bhutanese practice that signifies the importance of the chief guest. This was followed by the Jepay Paw Dance, representing an enlightened spirit, and a Marchang Ceremony, where a traditional beverage, usually wine, is offered to the spirits of the land. Guests enjoyed traditional Bhutanese butter tea (suja) and sweetened saffron rice.

President Choku Wangchuk and Sonam addressed the assembly, noting the serendipitous nature of their gathering over 7000 km from their homeland. “We could be somewhere else, but we were able to come here because of past karmic force,” he said. “We are very fortunate, and I would like to especially thank Rona and Cos for allowing us to set up this retreat here among the local neighbours.”

The practitioners, including Khim Tai, their treasurer from Malaysia, spent three days reflecting on the foundations of their faith and engaging in lessons with His Holiness Garab Rinpoche, including teachings on phowa, the transference of consciousness at the time of death. This deep immersion in spiritual practice fostered a profound sense of connection and enlightenment among the participants. Sonam Norbu remarked, “The benefits of this retreat will flourish and bring peace to the whole world, especially this land.”

Cos and Rona Chiera of Moore River Holidays